Head and shoulders photo of Epenesa Olo-Whaanga Head and shoulders photo of Epenesa Olo-Whaanga

The Pacific Commissioning function addresses key Pacific health priorities by enabling health services to be designed by Pacific, for Pacific.  

Epenesa Olo-Whaanga, Head of Pacific Commissioning, is already putting her dedication and passion for improving health outcomes for Pacific peoples in Aotearoa to good use. Her team is quickly taking shape and is already beginning to settle into leading the design and delivery of the national Pacific commissioning work programme. 

Improving Pacific peoples’ experiences with the health system 

Epenesa says it’s all about improving the experiences Pacific people and their families have with the health system, and commissioning for the outcomes they want for their health and wellbeing.   

“The Pacific commissioning work programme has a lot of aspects to it, including planning, engagement, funding, procurement, contract administration, monitoring and evaluation as well as heading up an investment advisory function that covers the allocation of funding to regions and sustainable funding for Pacific provider development.  

“We will be working closely with the community and our Pacific providers, as well as influencing other areas within Te Whatu Ora that carry out Pacific health promotion and public health initiatives.” 

Making sure that the funding has an impact is an integral function of the team.  

“We will make use of data and insights to inform the health services we procure for our Pacific communities—and then monitor the performance of these services and the impact they have,” says Epenesa. 

The recent allocation of the Pacific Provider Development Fund (PPDF) was administered by the new Pacific Commissioning team.  

“The PPDF is an annual allocation designed to support Pacific health and disability providers to grow their organisation to service their communities,” says Epenesa. 

“It was brilliant to see the thought and insights that providers put into their funding requests—and I’m excited to see the impacts that will be made as a result of the 2024 allocation.” 

Enabling more access and choice 

Epenesa says that the plan is to move all Pacific contracts across to the Pacific Health group. 

“As the Pacific Commissioning team grows, we can do more. We’re in the process of consolidating funds into Pacific contracts that sit in the districts, regions and nationally, looking at how we offer more access to, and choice of, healthcare services to the Pacific community.  

“I am so pleased to be involved in this work—I am passionate about helping to achieve Pae Ora for Pacific peoples, and I think the work we do will make a real difference to our families and communities.”